Cue-reactivity in behavioral addictions : A meta-analysis and methodological considerations

Starcke, Katrin LSF; Antons, Stephanie LSF; Trotzke, Patrick LSF; Brand, Matthias LSF

Background and aims: Recent research has applied cue-reactivity paradigms to behavioral addictions. The aim of the current meta-analysis is to systematically analyze the effects of learning-based cue-reactivity in behavioral addictions.
Methods: The current meta-analysis includes 18 studies (29 data sets, 510 participants) that have used a cue-reactivity paradigm in persons with gambling (eight studies), gaming (nine studies), or buying (one study) disorders. We compared subjective, peripheral physiological, electroencephal, and neural responses toward addiction-relevant cues in patients versus control participants and toward addiction-relevant cues versus control cues in patients.
Results: Persons with behavioral addictions showed higher cue-reactivity toward addiction-relevant cues compared with control participants: subjective cue-reactivity (d = 0.84, p = .01) and peripheral physiological and electroencephal measures of cue-reactivity (d = 0.61, p < .01). Increased neural activation was found in the caudate nucleus, inferior frontal gyrus, median cingulate cortex, subgenual cingulate, and precentral gyrus. Persons with gambling, gaming, or buying disorders also showed higher cue-reactivity toward addiction-relevant cues compared with control cues: subjective cue-reactivity (d = 0.39, p = .11) and peripheral physiological and electroencephal measures of cue-reactivity (d = 0.47, p = .05). Increased neural activation was found in the caudate nucleus, inferior frontal gyrus, angular gyrus, inferior network, and precuneus.
Discussion and conclusions: Cue-reactivity not only exists in substance-use disorders but also in gambling, gaming, and buying disorders. Future research should differentiate between cue-reactivity in addictive behaviors and cue-reactivity in functional excessive behaviors such as passions, hobbies, or professions.

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Starcke, K., Antons, S., Trotzke, P., Brand, M., 2018. Cue-reactivity in behavioral addictions: A meta-analysis and methodological considerations. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.7.2018.39
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